The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 10, 2013

Investigators looking into high-speed ferry crash

(Continued)

After the impact, the boat was able to dock normally. Wertz, who saw the crash from the dock, said passengers raced off once the ramp was down.

"I think people just wanted to get the heck off the boat as soon as they could," she said.

Police said the boat's crew passed alcohol breath tests given after the crash. Crew members also took drug tests, the results of which weren't immediately available.

Officials identified the captain as Jason Reimer, an experienced seaman. In a 2004 profile in Newsday, Reimer said he had joined Seastreak as a deckhand in 1997 and became a captain three years later at age 23. Barker called him "a great guy."

The NTSB said it had yet to interview the captain.

The Seastreak Wall Street has been in minor accidents before. Coast Guard records said the ferry hit a cluster of fender piles while docking in 2010, punching a small hole in the ship's skin. In 2009, it suffered another tear on the bow after another minor docking collision. No one was injured in either of those mishaps.

Such ferry accidents happen every few years in New York. In 2003, 11 people were killed when a Staten Island Ferry crashed into a pier on Staten Island after its pilot passed out at the wheel. Three people were badly hurt and about 40 were injured when the same ferry hit the same pier in 2010 because of a mechanical problem.

Wednesday's ferry accident happened just a few hours before a 200-foot-tall crane collapsed onto a building under construction near the East River waterfront in Queens, injuring seven people.

 

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